Septum Piercing General Info and FAQs
I've had my septum pierced for many years, so I've become quite knowledgable about how to take care of it. People ask me nosy questions about it all the time, so I've gotten used to answering. Here I share everything I know, both from my personal experience and extensive research.
Frequently Asked Questions About Septum Piercings
What exactly is a septum piercing?
A septum piercing is a piercing that goes through the nasal septum, which separates the left and right nostrils. The piercing needle goes through the thin piece of flesh towards the front of your nose, beyond the cartilage. This is called the "columella," but is often referred to as the "sweet spot." Some people do not have a columella, so their piercing can be done through the cartilage . . . however, that can be extremely painful.
Did it hurt?
This is literally the most-asked question ever and anyone with any facial piercings will agree. I barely felt the needle pass through my septum, but I did feel the tug as my piercer pushed the ring through. On a scale of 1–10, I'd rate it at a 1 or 2. My nose was relatively sore for the 3–5 days after, but this can be expected from any piercing.
What do you call that?
The correct term for this piercing is the septum piercing, but they are also called . . .
- bull ring piercing (just a negative association)
- nose piercing (this is not incorrect, but a 'nose piercing' generally refers to a nostril piercing)
- septril (incorrect, as the septril piercing goes straight through the tip into the septum).
Can you hide your nose piercing?
Sure, it's possible. If your piercer puts the pierce high enough, no one will be able to see the jewelry if you flip it upside down. It depends on the shape of your columella, too. Of course, this only works with certain kinds of jewelry, like horseshoes or staple types. If you know you'll want to hide it, talk to your piercer and choose the placement very carefully.
Should you flip your septum ring up?
No. Just my opinion, but you probably shouldn't pierce something if you feel like you have to hide it, if you can't have it at work, if your parents won't allow you to, etc. It's not wise to constantly move your healing piercing. Letting your piercing heal flipped up will cause the curve of the hole to be upside down, which sometimes makes wearing jewelry flipped down uncomfortable after the healing period. So, especially during the healing period, leave it down.
How much does a septum piercing cost?
My piercer charged me $40, which was reasonable, and it included the jewelry. I tipped $8 because I was very satisfied with the end product. (Note: It is common courtesy to tip your piercers as they are performing a service for you. They deserve your gratitude.) But the price of any modification will vary depending on where you go, how well you know your piercer, what jewelry you get, etc.
How big is a septum piercing?
Most piercers use around a 16 gauge to start off, unless you request a bigger size. It can be stretched after the initial piercing as long as your anatomy allows for it.
How long does it take to heal?
My piercer said 4–5 weeks, but I always wait about 2 months before changing the jewelry because I know my body has a long healing time. Heal time will depend on your body. If you are unsure whether or not your piercing is healed, go to your piercer and ask them to look at it for you. They should do this free of charge.
Does anyone think that's attractive?
Usually it's older people who ask this question. Tons of younger people find septum piercings extremely attractive. If you ask me this question, I know you're a little out of touch.
Does it ever get caught on stuff?
Actually, this rarely happens. I have friends with nose piercings on the sides of their noses who say they have to be extra careful pulling sweaters over their heads, but this has never happened to me and so I don't think much about it.
Has anyone ever grabbed your nose ring and pulled?
No, this has never happened, although the frequency of the question makes me wonder just how many people are thinking about it. What are you thinking, people?
What about removal? Can you take out a septum piercing?
Yes, if you decide you don't want it anymore, you can take out your septum piercing and the hole will close eventually. The longer you've had it, the longer it will take to close. And the best thing is that nobody can see the hole anyway, so it doesn't really matter.
What if I have a deviated septum? Can I still get it pierced?
If your nose is not entirely symmetrical, this piercing might draw attention to that fact. So yes, you can get the piercing if you want to and if you don't care if it emphasizes the asymmetry. If you're not sure if you want to do that, try putting in a faux septum ring to see if you like how it looks.
Can you use a piercing gun to pierce a septum?
No. Just no. Don't even think about it. For so many reasons. Get the job done right, with a needle and a professional piercer. Read Piercing Needles vs Piercing Gun: Which Is Safer? for more information.
Does a septum piercing stink?
I'll be honest: Sometimes, it does stink. “Septum funk” or “septum stench” is caused by a concoction of sebum mixed with dead skin cells and bacteria. It smells like old cheese and it's a sign that you need to clean it more often or maybe try jewelry made of a different material.
Don't your boogers get stuck to it?
A septum piercing is tricky to clean and using your fingers is no longer recommended. Get yourself some q tips, a little bowl of salt water, and a syringe to shoot saline up there, and you'll be fine.
Are septum piercings cultural appropriation?
That's a good question. This piercing started way back in the Aztec, Maya, and Inca cultures. It was also seen in the New Guinean Bundi tribe. In many cultures, the piercing was used as a rite of passage. The practice traveled to India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Tibet and is still practiced by both Muslim and Hindu women where it is often used as a sign that a woman is old enough to marry. Today, it also has a history in Western subcultures.
Cultures influence each another. Since I have a septum piercing, I want to believe it's appreciation, not appropriation, but still, it's a very good question. Anyone who chooses a septum piercing should try to be as thoughtful and historically and culturally informed as possible. I figure it's okay if you want to do it because you want to experiment with your own body, but if you want to look like you're part of another culture or belief system that doesn't belong to you, then maybe you need to think about it some more first.
Where is the sweet spot?
The location of your piercing should be in the bit of flesh towards the front of your nose and high up in the tip. They are often pierced too low in the nose, which can cause a lot of problems later. Some people do NOT have a sweet spot, so if you still want the piercing, it'll have to go through your cartilage.
What if they pierce it in the wrong place?
Septum piercings are easy to do, but very easy to mess up. They can go too far back, too low, or too crooked. Even when clamps are used, the needle may not go through at a completely level angle, giving you a wonky piercing. They are often necessary to do 2–3 times in order to get a straight piercing, so be prepared for this if you want to get it done right.
Note: You may have trouble flipping and hiding your jewelry if you're pierced too low. Make sure to get it done higher so it can be invisible when flipped.
Does a septum piercing go through cartilage?
It shouldn't. The needle should go through the little bit of flesh at the front of your nose called the "columella," which has no cartilage in it, so it shouldn't touch the cartilage. (However, some people just don't have a columella; in that case, it would need to go through the cartilage.)
What kind of aftercare is required to heal a septum?
- Sea-salt soaks, sea-salt soaks, sea-salt soaks! This is the way to heal pretty much any piercing. Just mix 1/4 teaspoon of sea-salt (not table salt. I repeat, NOT TABLE SALT) with 8 ounces of water.
- Use a Q-Tip to get all up in your nose, or just dip the tip of your nose directly into the solution.
- I soak twice a day: in the morning and before bed. Don't soak more than three times a day, or it will dry out your piercing.
- Saline spray (H2Ocean is a nice one) is also an option if you don't want to use all your sea-salt on your nose.
- I am also a firm believer in the LITHA [Leave It the Hell Alone] method.
- If your bacteria-covered fingers aren't disrupting your healing piercing, the process will go by a lot quicker.
Should I get my septum pierced?
If you want to do it and you have permission and all the appropriate consent to do it, then go for it. You don’t need my yes or no. But if I’m being asked if I would recommend getting a septum piercing over a different one, I’d say yes, septums are cool. Usually I just avoid this question and tell people to do whatever they want with their body. Just make sure you are willing and able to take care of it. You might want to read Fifteen Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Got My Nose Pierced.
The Pros and Cons of a Septum Piercing
Easily hidden: just flip it up and voila!
Irritating when you have a runny nose. Blowing your nose gets complicated.
Rejections are impossible, migrations are rare.
Never stays aligned—it's always crooked.
Easy care and simple healing process.
Septum stench = the inescapable smell of dead skin cell build up.
Wide range of jewelry options.
"Bull ring" remarks are common.
Works well on many people.
Very easy to bump during the healing period.
No visible scar tissue. If it scars, it's hidden!
The jewelry can be hard to change without help.
Very little pain, if done in the sweet spot.
It's very hard to get the piercing done in just the right spot and at the right angle. You may need to have it re-done.
Do/Would you have/get your septum pierced?
What are the jewelry options for a septum piercing?
- Often (incorrectly) referred to as "horseshoe rings," these babies are a hoop that goes about 3/4 of the way around, with two balls/spikes/endings that screw onto each end.
- I only recommend internally threaded barbells since the externally threaded ones tear up your piercing.
Captive Bead Rings (CBRs)
- CBRs are similar to circular barbells but instead of two endings, there is a single ball that pops between the endings of the ring.
- These are nice because there's no threading, but the bead can be a pain in the neck to get in. I also see a lot of people wear CBRs without the bead.
- These aren't my favorite as they tend to be really gaudy, but that's just my opinion.
- They are straight rods that have a hinge that a full bottom goes on, then latches onto the other side.
- Clickers aren't the best to start out with because you'll be shoving a straight rod through a curved piercing. They are also notorious for pinching your nose and being difficult to unhinge.
- I love retainers. They are jewelry made specifically for flipping up and into your nostrils to hide.
- They are shaped in a way that grasps the inside of your nose so that it doesn't fall down as circular barbells often do.
- Retainers can come in a staple-shaped form or a curvier one.
There are others, such as segment rings. I've also seen people wear curved barbells so their jewelry didn't hang out of their noses. People sometimes wear pinchers while they're stretching.
What kind of jewelry should I start out with?
Best to start with a circular barbell, a staple or septum retainer, or a captive bead ring. Save those fancy clickers and seamless rings for later, after you've healed.
How long before I can change my jewelry?
Healing time normally takes from 6 to 8 weeks and up to 6 months.
Is that a fake septum piercing or is it real?
No, it's not a fake or faux septum piercing, it's the real deal.
How can you tell a real septum piercing from a fake one?
It's almost impossible to tell. Lady Gaga (real), Rihanna (faux). Is there any sneaky way to spy deep inside someone's nose to find out? You could just ask.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Reina